A Wet and wild night …for some
07 December 2007
The Atlantic crossing with the ARC is often casually described by armchair sailors as “a milk run”; well for some ARC crews last night saw the milk well and truly churned as an area of concentrated rain and thunderstorms brought a wet and wild night for yachts in the middle of the fleet. The compact area of the weather system meant that yachts to the north or south enjoyed perfect conditions, whilst those coming through the middle, had a totally different night. In their log today Gull, wrote “We have been on the wheel now in 30 knot winds for the last 36 hours and fatigue is kicking in. We are rotating every 3 hours but it is wearing us down. We have not seen blue skies for two days however we are seeing shafts of light this morning. “ But there is a plus side to the weather – Gull again “The night before last we were entertained by frequent lightening and since then the seas and winds have been right up and only this morning abating. It has made for some exhilarating sailing with the boat frequently hitting 12knots surfing down waves.” With advance warning – preparations were made.
On Johanem they used the weather advisory warning to plan ahead for the night. “We received a strong wind and thunder storm warning late yesterday afternoon so decided to have an early supper and reef down for the night” said skipper Steve Sugden. “With the boat rolling so much we decided to put the meal originally planned on hold and to have spaghetti bolognaise – the bolognaise had been prepared and cooked previously in Las Palmas and frozen. Fortunately a few meals were prepared in advance, in anticipation of conditions like last night. We even decided to dispense with the pre-dinner drink in favour of settling into our night watch routine ASAP. Despite some strong winds and pretty massive waves we all had a reasonably comfortable night although I think we are all feeling a bit tired. Good progress was made and we are confident about beating yesterdays 24 hour run which was our previous record.” It can be exciting “At about 3am we recorded a new boat speed record of 11.6knots - that’s twice our average speed!” reported Chris Latter on Gullvika; continuing “secretly I am praying for us to be becalmed - this is exhausting - but at least we are knocking off the miles in the right direction.” Who’ll stop the rain? It is the rain that has caused comment on Lagoon 500 Fat Cat – skipper Steve Glavine describes it in his log today: “We have been making good time over the last couple days as the winds have been strong. Unfortunately, with the winds has come a ridiculous amount of rain. I sat through 4 hours of it yesterday during my watch.”
Onboard Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2 Trucial Coast, they describe their recent weather as “about 6 hours of very heavy rain followed by a further 12 hours of showers, many of which were heavy.” And with the wind comes the swell Trucial Coast continue: “The waves really are something else now. Whilst we’re not quite in Southern Ocean territory, it is still something to behold. There is an underlying swell of up to 15ft, with a huge wavelength of 20+ metres, local conditions then pile a further 10-12ft on top of this, in smaller wavelengths. If you get one directly on top of the other, you find yourself staring at a wall of water that comes some way above your head as you sit at the helm, and when on top of it, it’s like looking out from a second story window at the surrounding water.” Big waves have caused some damage with a broken boom reported by Southern Princess adding to the tally of four in the fleet so far. Five yachts have also reported loosing one of their two man-overboard lifebuoys, bright yellow horseshoe shaped rings, washed over the side when “pooped” - hit by a large wave from astern.
Reproduced courtesy of ARC Rally website www.worldcruising.com/arc
You can read more about heavy weather sailing in my 135 page ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' on my website www.sailboat2adventure.com